Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to SD Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

S.D. School of Mines & Technology
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493

Research@Mines

Research@Mines

Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

Termite Mounds Hide Secrets to Sustainable Buildings of the Future

Andrea Surovek, Ph.D., a research scientist from SD Mines’ Department of Mechanical Engineering, standing next to a termite mound in Namibia.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has been awarded $475,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how termites construct mounds with the idea that humans might one day adapt the energy-efficient homebuilding techniques of the insects. The award is a follow-up to a previous grant by NSF of $300,000.

Mines faculty researchers spent time in the African country of Namibia to study the shape and function of termite mounds. The mounds are resilient and naturally energy efficient. Their intricate interior designs provide ventilation and temperature regulation throughout what can easily be a 15-foot-tall home for a single colony of 2 million termites. 

“An understanding of the natural processes involved in termite mound construction and function can be adapted to inform engineering applications related to the construction of man-made structures that require zero or minimal energy inputs,” said the NSF award letter.

Co-principal investigator Andrea Surovek, Ph.D., a research scientist from SD Mines’ Department of Mechanical Engineering, has lead research that examined hundreds of slices of a termite mound and has developed three-dimensional models of numerous mounds using ...

Last Edited 10/30/2018 03:21:47 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Researchers Explore Hydraulic Fracturing to Expand Geothermal Energy

Liangping Li, Ph.D., (left) and Bill Roggenthen, Ph.D., (right) shown here in the EGS Collab at the 4850 level of the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

The use of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking as it’s commonly called in the press) has been a topic of contention in the oil and gas industry. However, researchers believe fracking can also be used at depth in hard rocks that contain no oil or gas to improve geothermal energy production. The process could enhance the use of the earth’s own heat as a source of clean energy.

Liangping Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, has received an award from National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research entitled “Inverse Methods of Hydraulic Fracturing for Enhanced Geothermal Systems in a Deep Mine.” Li is working alongside projects already underway at the Sanford Research Facility (SURF) including kISMET (permeability (k) and Induced Seismicity Management for Energy Technologies) and the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) project. Hydraulic fracturing research at SURF uses no chemicals, so unlike some fossil fuel fracking operations, the fracking fluid used in these ...

Last Edited 11/5/2018 09:28:37 AM [Comments (0)]

Mines Undergraduate Research at Sanford Lab

Brady Bos, SD Mines Photo credit SURF.

Brady Bos is a senior physics and mathematics double major at SD Mines from Pipestone, MN. As a freshman, Bos received an email from a professor looking for student help on a physics experiment. That professor was Cabot-Ann Christofferson, the Deputy Director of Majorana Project and a chemistry instructor at SD Mines. Christofferson brought bos on  the MAJORANA Demonstrator located on the 4850 Level of Sanford Underground Research Facility

“I thought it was a great opportunity, so I gave it a shot,” said Bos. 

Bos currently runs data and simulation analysis on the Radon backgrounds in the MAJORANA Demonstrator. 

“When I started I helped with the construction of the experiment, and I have been doing a fair amount of chemistry work too,” said Bos. “I was so surprised at the level of cleanliness that they can achieve in a mine a mile underground.” 

This work gives him extensive experience with data analysis and cleanrooms, which he says is valuable for his future career in physics. 

Bos is one of many undergraduates at SD Mines who take part in research at and around the Sanford Lab.

Last Edited 10/12/2018 04:45:43 PM [Comments (0)]

When oil and water mix Understanding the environmental impacts of shale development

Dan Soeder, director of the Energy Resources Initiative at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, has co-authored the cover article in the September issue of GSA Today magazine. This photo published on the cover was taken by Soeder.

Dan Soeder, director of the Energy Resources Initiative (ERI) at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, has co-authored the cover article titled “When oil and water mix: Understanding the environmental impacts of shale development,” in the September 2018 issue of GSA Today, a magazine published by the Geological Society of America.

The article explores what is known and not known about the environmental risks of fracking with the intent of fostering informed discussions within the geoscience community on the topic of hydraulic fracturing. Soeder’s co-author is Douglas B. Kent of the United States Geological Survey.

In this paper, Soeder and Kent bridge the gap in consensus regarding fracking, providing current information about the environmental impacts of shale development. The article is open access and adheres to science and policy, presenting a complicated and controversial topic in a manner more easily understood by the lay person.

"Geoscientists from dinosaur experts to the people studying the surface of Mars are often asked by the public to weigh-in with their opinions on fracking. We wanted the broader geoscience community to be aware of what is kn...

Last Edited 10/12/2018 12:33:28 PM [Comments (0)]